The first roommate I had here in LA was completely out of her mind. We’re talking a real nut. I won’t go too far into details, but I will say skydiving without a parachute would have been more pleasurable than living with that woman. Her little sister, on the other hand, who used to frequently visit from NY, was the polar opposite; she was well read, sociable, easy to please, giggled perpetually, she didn’t steal my stuff, and she found enjoyment in sharing things. One thing she shared with me was here love for a local emcee from her hometown, Amanda Diva. I was unaware of her at the time, but completely open to discovering new music. She played this track for me called “40 Emcees,” and my head spun.
It was like seeing a unicorn for the first time. It was such a breath of fresh air, since, for the most part, female emcees -- female performers, period -- at that time, had been reduced to floss, glitter and stilettos, to say the least. Not exactly my meat and potatoes. But, I digress. Amanda Diva is the TRUTH, and she comes fully equipped with a Master’s degree, bubbling personality, mad lyrical flow, wit, charm, the gift of gab and crazy talent.
Now, nearly three years after my first encounter, I see and hear Amanda Diva almost everywhere, from her show on her YouTube spot, Diva Speak TV, to here guest appearance on Q-tip’s album, to her blog, to The Roots, to Floetry. I tracked Miss Diva down to chat her up about female emcees, the First family, the Internet and her new EP Spandex, Rhymes, & Soul.
What is a diva to you?
A diva is a woman about her integrity and her business. There are some negative connotations to the word but it really derives from the head soprano in the old Italian opera houses. She was the one folks came to see and ran that stage when she was on it. Translate that to now and a diva is a woman who runs her business!
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a female emcee, or female performer in general?
Advantages: dudes look out sometimes, because in the back (really the front) of their minds they think it might get them “somewhere” with you, lol. The field is smaller, so if you’re on point you can get further faster.
Disadvantages: People question your seriousness and credibility. Folks continuously attempt to take advantage of you because they underestimate your intelligence. [Lack of] safety.
Do you think females catch a brick sometimes where men get a pass?
Hell yea. We are expected to be SO much more on point that men. And people are much quicker to dismiss us off of one lil snafu or missed bar! Lol!
How has life changed for you since election night?
Not that it's relevant to Bams being in office, but since then I’ve just become much more of an efficient hustler. I was working harder, not smarter, and it was wearing me down but I’m doing better and seeing results. Also, Q-tip’s album dropped on election night and as a feature on the album I’ve seen my credibility grow immensely.
What comes to mind when you see Michelle Obama?
In the Internet age, what advice can you give to new artists?
Utilize it but don’t swear by it. You can’t ONLY exist on the Internet. You have to get out there and do shows. You have to be tangible for folks. Also, watch what you say. Folks get WAYYY too comfortable!
You’ve really taken advantage of the Internet; do you think things would be different for you, had you not had that outlet?
Oh, no question. The Internet has unquestionably been the key to my success. It has allowed me, someone with a vision and drive, to be able to put that to praxis with the machine of a label, which for SO long was the only way to break through.
When did you realize the industry had embraced you as an artist?
When I people started asking me for features and artists referred to me as a peer during interviews. After I dropped Spandex, Rhymes, & Soul, peers even sent me emails commending me on my work. That brought a tear to my eye, lol.
What do you think about auto tune?
'Till next time...chew the corners off!